5 everyday gadgets inspired by space travel
Perhaps the most human trait of all, is the ability to create – and in many ways the history of humanity is a timeline of innovation.
The discovery of fire revolutionized human life on earth, the development of the wheel got the world moving faster, and in today’s world, travel into space is our new frontier.
As we watch SpaceX begin a fresh exploration into the mystery beyond, it’s a wonder to learn of just how much the race to space has given birth to the gadgets we now use in our everyday lives.
Child safety seat
It was Swedish engineer Bertil Aldman that came up with a crucial aspect of today’s child booster seat; that of positioning it backwards, and Aldman got his inspiration directly from Nasa.
He saw that astronauts of the Gemini Space program were positioned backward in their capsule, a means to limit the effect of acceleration force on them, and immediately knew that the same logic would help protect infants and young children in motor cars.
It’s a concept that has gone on to save millions of lives, thanks to Volvo Cars.
Volvo is famous for having invented the three-point safety belt, and so it comes as no surprise that they were responsible for developing Aldman’s vision in to the first child safety seat too.
A little known fact is that the first digital camera was built by Eastman Kodak in 1975 (if only they had continued to develop it!) but the actual concept of digital photography has its root in the 1960s, developed by an engineer at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
It was the discoveries of that program that led to the iconic shots of the galaxy, the moon, and even the earth, all of which still inspire us today; and that specific technology which powers one in three camera phones.
The next time you whip out your phone to take a family snap, remember, the tech in your hand was inspired by the stars.
The soles of your running shoes
Most runners wouldn’t know it, but since the Apollo era, every weekend jogger and marathon champion has been competing in space shoes.
In the 1960s Nasa developed the "blow rubber molding" process to produce space helmets, which is the same tech used to create the hollows in running shoes that get filled with shock absorbing material.
In fact, it can be said, that without Nasa engineer Frank Rudy, the Nike Air brand would never have seen the light of day.
It’s not really so surprising, is it?
Who better than space explorers to discover the best way to turn nutrients into a powder?
Today, many infant formulas rely on a nutrition enrichment process originally devised by Nasa.
The agency began research into the potential for algae to be used as a food recycling agent, which resulted in the creation of an algae-based vegetable oil.
The result became known as Formulaid, which is the bedrock of many baby foods today.
The computer mouse
Potentially the space inspired gizmo most in use the world over today is none other than the mighty computer mouse.
That tiny staple of every laptop and PC was born during the frenzy that was the race to the moon of the 1960’s.
Nasa and Stanford researchers were focused on finding an easier way for astronauts to connect with their onboard computers, giving the developed world our most trusty sidekick.
Today space exploration is back in the news.
Virgin Galactic have already sold tourist tickets for space flips, Nokia is installing cell towers on the moon to assist engineers slated for lunar work shifts, and Elon Musk sees Mars as an obvious choice for a new home.
Humanity’s speed of innovation is only increasing, making the wave of new gadgets set to join life on earth as fascinating as ever.